Monday, May 30, 2011

Road Trip

During the stretch of 22nd -28th May we traveled between places by car. The arrangements included an experienced and reliable driver. The driver chauffeurs his guests to each destination and then waits for departure to the next destination. The car rental company (Avis in our case) provides its driver with an allowance for overnight room and board.


Our driver, Bhanwar, was very professional. An excellent driver who smiled as he stated “when driving in India, you need three things: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck.” Bhanwar became a friend. We exchanged personal stories; he looked out for us in situations where being an Indian was helpful, if not essential; he was simply good company, a good man with a "warm heart . "

The route was Jaipur-Ranthambhore-Jaipur-Agra-New Delhi. The trip began a bit  inauspiciously . Within the first thirty minutes we were lashed by a sand storm.

Sand Storm Just Outside Jaipur

Traffic came to a standstill for several minutes. It was almost dark at 1:30 in the afternoon. Once conditions permitted, movement cautiously resumed with drivers using headlights to maneuver their vehicles. Light rain followed the storm. Within an hour the rain stopped and Indian driving behavior was "normal" again. Driving conditions were not impaired by weather again.

The actual four days of driving (3-5 hours each day) covered 450-470 miles and took probably 14-15 hours in the vehicle, with various stops. The drives, at times, were rather slow and tedious but for the most part were a great way to see the countryside and the scattered towns along our route.
Brick Factory, a majority of all buildings in India are made of mud brick.
The growing construction boom in India, coupled the inability for
 peasants to support themselves by farming is luring residents from
 the country side into the brick making business. 

Dry, arid, flat landscape

Wheat Storage.
Approximately 70% of farm produce is stored by farmers for their
own consumption. Farmers store grain in bulk, using different
 types of storage structures made from locally available materials.

The people along the way were interesting, colorful, and memorable. We were able to capture scenes depicting the daily lives of people along the roadside.

Family, Friends, and Neighbors Bathing Together

Within the towns traffic can quickly become snarled. Pedestrians (both human and animal),"judaags", tuk-tuks, camel carts, large trucks, you name it can bring traffic to a halt.

Judaag, a homemade vehicle made by cobbling together a
 wooden cart with recycled mechanical parts. "Jugaad" is how
everyone gets by with "what they have, rather than what they
need or what they want."

Commercial Truck or "Goods Carrier"
Road transport of goods represent nearly
63% in freight movement compared to its
share of just about 10% in the early 1950s.

The time on the road certainly gave us a different view of the country versus flying. Yet it was Bhanwar, our driver, along with the people we saw or talked to along the way that provided the depth and texture of this region of India.

Next stop...

No comments:

Post a Comment